Common warts are small, grainy skin growths that occur most often on the fingers or hands. They're rough to the touch and often have tiny black dots. These dots are clotted blood vessels.

Common warts are caused by a virus and are transmitted by touch. It can take 2 to 6 months for a wart to develop. The warts are usually harmless and over time go away on their own. But many people choose to remove them because they find them bothersome or embarrassing.


Common warts symptoms include:

  • Small, fleshy, grainy bumps on the fingers or hands.
  • Feeling rough to the touch.
  • A sprinkling of black dots, which are clotted blood vessels.

When to see a doctor

See a healthcare professional for common warts if:

  • The growths hurt, bleed, burn or itch.
  • You've tried treating the warts, but they persist, spread or come back.
  • The growths are bothersome or interfere with activities.
  • You're unsure whether the growths are warts.
  • You have many warts.
  • You have a weak immune system.
  • Warts show up on the face, feet or genitals.

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Common warts are caused by the human papillomavirus, also called HPV. There are more than 100 types of this common virus, but only a few cause warts on the hands. Some strains of HPV are spread through sexual contact. But most are spread by casual skin contact or shared objects, such as towels or washcloths. The virus usually spreads through breaks in the skin, such as hangnails or scrapes. Biting your nails also can cause warts to spread on your fingertips and around your nails.

Each person's immune system responds to HPV differently. So not everyone who comes in contact with HPV develops warts.

Risk factors

People at higher risk of developing common warts include:

  • Children and young adults.
  • People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or those who have had organ transplants.
  • People with the habit of nail biting or picking at hangnails.


To help prevent common warts:

  • Don't touch or pick at warts, including your own.
  • Don't use the same emery board, pumice stone or nail clipper on your warts as you use on healthy skin and nails. Use a disposable emery board.
  • Don't bite your fingernails or pick at hangnails.
  • Groom with care. And avoid brushing, clipping or shaving areas that have warts.
  • Avoid shared hot tubs, showers and warm baths. And don't share washcloths or towels.
  • Use hand moisturizer daily. This helps prevent dry, cracked skin.

May 16, 2024
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